Not A Dry Eye In The House


Kate Walsh is not a doctor, but she plays one on TV in the popular show Grey's Anatomy. She is also partnering with Alcon in its new campaign, "Make Every Look Count" for Systane. I don't watch this show, so the star power does not work on me. However, it will garner attention from a large group of people, around 14M across all platforms. Character development in the show engenders personal relationships among viewers. But will this translate into increased consideration of Systane? Kate is relating her experience with Systane to issues that she faces with dry eye.

How Is "Dry Eye" Affecting Kate?

In the recent Fierce Pharma article, Walsh is quoted as saying, “For years, I blamed my tired eyes on the bright lights on set, too much screen time, the need for a new eye prescription and other things. After I learned I had dry eye, I went on a journey to find the right solution, because the symptoms caused me to be distracted during important moments, on and off-set. We hope this campaign will encourage others to find what works for their dry eye symptoms, so they can reconnect with loved ones and the experiences in life that matter most.”

Other Examples of Celebrity DTC Marketing

Ray Liotta is the gold standard for how an actor/spokesperson can influence consideration of a Pharma brand. Our research showed that the Liotta campaign was incredibly effective, registering high awareness and emotional delivery for Chantix.

Multi-Channel Campaign

The "Kate Campaign" follows the recent pattern evolving within Pharma that utilizes a multi-channel approach. It hits the audience from multiple angles creating the classic "media multiplier" effect, relying on on both organic and paid social content. If Kate is successful, the marketing can be expanded to other channels.

While Alcon is not commenting on other tactics that will be used as part of the campaign, it is likely that it will use social media videos. This approach is scalable and will generate interest among the target audience. BTF Lifesciences reports that tweets with videos are six times more likely to be retweeted and lift brand awareness in viewers by 50%. On Facebook, video posts have a 25% higher engagement rate than photo posts and a 79% higher engagement rate than link posts.


Let The Competition Begin


Systane will not be alone in this advertising. Lumenis has also launched its advertising for OptiLight with another celebrity, Mandy Moore, who also comes from a popular TV series. This campaign launched in February. These campaigns compete with better-known brands such as Xiidra from Novartis, Restasis from AbbVie, and Cequa from Sun Pharma. These brands benefit from marketing budgets that dwarf brands like Lumenis. In such a competitive category, does it even stand a chance? Maybe. So many factors will affect the potential success of the brand (too many to list here). However, we have done an analysis of a situation like this where the small challenger brand was able to effectively compete against (not "beat") the Goliath.  We have analysis on how this can be carried out if you wish to receive a more detailed report.


Can A Smaller Brand Prevail?


In that report, we found that the David brand was able to compete by hitting the Goliath brand in a place where it was vulnerable. No, it was not like the biblical tale. Goliath was not killed. However, in these days of brand warfare, I think we can all agree that winning a share of the pie is the ultimate objective.


For the smaller brands, a frontal assault against brands with large marketing budgets is often foolish. If the Goliath brand is spending $40M+ on mass media and you have less than $20M to spend, it is hard to imagine a reason for you to commit a large percentage of your budget to network TV. But we will leave that to discussions you have with the media agency. Our advice is grounded in how you can effectively speak with the patient. The critical factor is to develop relevant messages that can break through to patients. Rest assured, they are looking for solutions to this problem. Dry eye is not an issue that they take lightly. If you get your message through to them ("get the eyeballs" as they say in media speak) in a way that is relevant, you have a great opportunity for success.

Successful Use of Patient Education Programs

In this category, patients are actively trying to learn about issues with eyesight. Bausch + Lomb recently initiated a partnership with the Prevent Blindness group to increase awareness of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It features patients who are telling their stories about how they cope with AMD.  

With the cataract awareness campaign already underway, Gordon said they’re “pleased by the engagement we have seen so far and look forward to the momentum building.” Fierce Pharma reported that Prevent Blindness CEO Jeff Todd said in the press release that with rising cases, it's “critical” to educate people early about cataracts and the effectiveness of surgery. This education can be critical for patients who experience AMD.

In all these cases, marketing is connecting with patients to provide them with information about how they can treat their optical issues. Pharma companies are recognizing that in many cases, the first step toward treatment in is the hands of the patients. They thus need the information to take that step.